What is good for you? How would those who know you well answer this question? What do you live for? How would your children answer? What brings you the most delight? How would your spouse answer this? The answers to these questions reveal much about you. Yet, as is often the case, we are often oblivious to what others see in us. Our focus tends to be on what we want others to think of us. In other words, we have a problem being objectively self-aware. Because of this inward focus, we cannot always be confident that our perception of what is good for us is also good for those around us. This lack of accurate self-perception is not a good thing.
There is only one way to be confident that what is good for you is also good for others. The nearness of God must be your good. Psalm 73:28 boldly proclaims that is it good to be near God:
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
What is it that constitutes your refuge? Where do you turn when you are tired, exhausted, discouraged and down? Answering this question will help you begin to discern what is truly good for you. If your refuge is in anything other than God, you will always be left with less than complete, true comfort and satisfaction. It may satisfy for the moment, but it is ultimately unable to bring true comfort. Furthermore, if anything other than the person of God is your good, then you will not be able to honor him in your relationships, particularly those with your family. Let me flesh this out a bit.
Suppose good is defined for you by how well your children do in school. (This applies to homeschoolers as well.) If the grades are good and the teachers are pleased, you define that as good. But then reality sets in. The grades could always be a little higher, the praise for your children a little more glowing. And when the grades are less than expected, life begins to get grim. This same scenario would apply to anything, such as sports or any other extra-curricular activity your child does that becomes your good. How about defining your good as always having your children obey you? This one is a little tricky. It is good for your children to obey. However, if their obedience becomes the measure of your good, then whenever they disobey, life is not good.
In both of these cases, being near to God must be the basis of goodness for you. The reason God gave you children is so that you can train them to follow Him. Only God’s grace at work in their hearts can bring true obedience. If you become discouraged with their disobedience, then you are discouraged with the task God has given you to do. God didn’t give you perfect children. Your children, like all other children, are in need of the saving work of Jesus Christ. When you are discouraged about your children’s performance, you become a legalist. Rather, their failures in school and at home are to be occasions for you to take them to Christ. That is when you teach them about the power of the gospel to help them live in true righteousness. If their disobedience is overwhelmingly discouraging to you, then you are teaching your children that what really matters is their performance.
Remember–I am agreeing that it is right to want your children to do well in school and to obey. Of course you want that. But if these things become the barometer that measures your sense of well-being, then something other than the nearness of God has become your good. You are asking your children to be the source of your satisfaction. This is a burden they cannot bear.
What is your good? How would your children answer? Give this some thought. We will look more at this and at Psalm 73 in the next post. As always, I look forward to your comments.